|Cameron Gordon (#4)|
Weight: 222 lbs.
High school: Inkster High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Strongside linebacker
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #4
Last year: I ranked Gordon #11 and said he would start at free safety. He started 7 games at free safety and 6 at outside linebacker; he had 77 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 fumble return for a touchdown, and 1 blocked kick.
It was pretty obvious from the beginning of last year that Gordon wasn't a free safety. To many people, that was obvious when he was recruited . . . just not obvious enough to Rich Rodriguez' coaching staff. Gordon made some nice tackles and even a couple interceptions on passes where he didn't have to run very far, but anytime he had to play sideline-to-sideline, it was a track meet he was bound to lose. Why opposing teams didn't run four verts against him on every play last year is beyond me. But by the Penn State, it was obvious that Gordon needed to be somewhere else. And just like Purdue in 2008 (Remember that? When we all learned what the 3-3-5 looked like for the first time?), Penn State was an abomination. With offensive guards playing defensive tackle, safeties playing linebacker, and backup safeties playing starting safety, Michigan allowed 41 points to a walk-on quarterback and gave Evan Royster 150 yards rushing when he had been averaging 64 yards per game previously.
After the position switch, Gordon's tackles per game dropped off (7.3 to 4.3), but he had 2 fumble recoveries, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and 2.5 tackles for loss from his outside linebacker position. He looked more comfortable playing closer to the line, and his speed went from being a weakness to a strength. By the end of the season, he wasn't a great player, but observers could certainly see that Gordon had developed into a Player to Watch over the next three years.
This year Gordon looks as if he'll start at SAM linebacker. He added 15 pounds in the offseason, which should allow him to shed blocks easier. He'll have hold off another viable option at SAM in redshirt freshman Jake Ryan (who's 8 lbs. heavier at 230), but Gordon has a leg up on Ryan in the athleticism department and will also slide over to inside linebacker in obvious passing situations. It would probably suit the defense well to sub Ryan for Gordon against power running teams or in short yardage situations, but Gordon's forward momentum should carry over from the end of 2010 into 2011.
Prediction: Starting SAM; 60 tackles, 2 sacks